·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


How Common is Domestic Violence in America?

— June 8, 2021

According to a leading domestic violence defense attorney, domestic violence in America is rampant.

Most people know someone who is a victim of domestic violence. However, you may not realize how prevalent domestic violence is in the U.S. until you dig deeper. 

The numbers are staggering. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 20 people per minute suffer abuse at the hands of a domestic or intimate partner. This has been updated here; it’s now 23 people per minute. That means over 10 million women and men will be victimized by domestic violence over the course of one year in the U.S. The NCADV also reports that individuals place 20,000 calls to domestic violence hotlines every single day in the country.

Domestic abuse does not happen behind closed doors anymore where children cannot see it. The NCADV reports that 1 in 15 children experienced some exposure to domestic violence every year in America. Shockingly, children witnessed 90% of the reported incidents. 

What is Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence?

According to a Colorado Springs domestic violence attorney, domestic violence or intimate partner violence is any act or threat of violence committed against a domestic partner or intimate partner. Acts of domestic violence run the gamut of severity. Intimate partner violence includes crimes such as:

  • Assault and battery;
  • Assault;
  • Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon;
  • Stalking;
  • Harassing;
  • Making threats to do bodily harm;
  • Intentionally damaging property;
  • Human trafficking;
  • Rape; and
  • Murder.

Assaults are the most common type of crime a domestic partner commits against another. Strikingly, domestic partners, mostly men, murder approximately three women per day in the U.S.

Acts of domestic violence can involve non-violent crimes as well. Stealing from an intimate partner, forcing an intimate partner to carry drugs unwillingly, or forcing an intimate partner to carry a firearm unlawfully are examples of non-violent crimes that could be a symptom of domestic abuse. 

Defining Domestic Partner

Understanding how experts define domestic partners is important to understanding the scope of the problem. Domestic partners can include numerous individuals such as:

  • Dating partners,
  • Spouses,
  • Ex-spouses,
  • Co-parents.

Depending on the state in which you live, other relationships might qualify as a domestic partner. 

Knowing the definition of domestic partners is important for another reason. Criminal laws in almost all U.S. states and territories increase potential prison sentences for domestic violence. The specifics vary among the states; however, many jurisdictions allow courts to hand down stricter prison sentences for domestic violence offenses.

Physical and Psychological Impact of Domestic Violence

Even after cuts and bruises heal, domestic violence victims are more likely to suffer physical manifestations of psychological trauma such as:

  • Chronic pain,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Various disabilities,
  • Cancer,
  • Cardiovascular disease,
  • Neurological disorders,
  • Miscarriage,
  • Stillbirth,
  • Intrauterine bleeding,
  • Abdominal pain, and 
  • Gastrointestinal distress.

Intimate partner violence typically reduces contraceptive use according to the Journal of Women’s Health. Reduced contraceptive use increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and transmission of sexual diseases.

Victims of intimate partner abuse sustain deep psychological trauma that lasts long after their physical wounds heal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the psychological damage domestic violence victims suffer also exacts a heavy price. Living in constant fear of being hurt and feeling intimidated takes a heavy toll. Also, direct psychological harm compounds a victim’s stress.

Website Provides Hope for Domestic Violence Survivors Seeking Compensation
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Psychological harm can come in the form of controlling behaviors such as isolating the victims from their families, constantly monitoring their whereabouts, and limiting access to financial means by refusing to allow them to work or have any money.

Victims of intimate partner abuse tend to have lower self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, heightened anxiety, and depression.

Moreover, victims of domestic abuse often turn to destructive methods of dealing with the stress. Victims of intimate partner abuse are more likely than others to use tobacco, drink alcohol excessively, and develop a drug habit. 

Men might be more susceptible to the psychological damage caused by domestic violence than women for one compelling reason. Experts say that men who witnessed domestic violence between their parents as children are two times more likely to abuse their wives than men who did not witness domestic violence as a child.

Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. is Costly

The economic damage domestic violence victims suffer is enormous. Domestic abuse results in healthcare costs of $4.1 billion each year. Additionally, businesses lose an estimated $1.8 billion because of domestic violence. 

Employees who fall victim to domestic violence lose 8 million days of paid work. That translates to approximately 32,000 full time jobs. Sadly, victims of intimate partner abuse often remain in an abusive setting because they have no financial means to leave.

As governments scrambled to reduce the number of people infected with COVID-19 by ordering people to lockdown in their homes, they made the domestic violence plague worse. According to an article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the economic instability of the pandemic, coupled with poor housing conditions and lack of social support, prevented incidents of domestic violence from being reported. Moreover, the lockdown forced alternative housing options to close. Clinics, hotels, and women’s’ shelters closed in accordance with pandemic restrictions. 

Fortunately, abused women and men have access to more social services as the pandemic eases its grip on the country.

Domestic Violence in America is a Complex Issue

Domestic violence is a multi-factorial issue that must be addressed in a multitude of ways. Arresting and prosecuting alleged offenders has failed to eradicate the problem. Social service agencies may be better equipped to attack the problem with the help of medical and mental health experts.

Join the conversation!